Family Overcomes Tragedy to Open Family Business

Carter Ivey is joining his parents, Chris and Molly Ruttle, in a business that two years ago did not seem possible when he suffered a massive stroke. After a long recovery, during which he had to relearn how to speak, Ivey said he is ready for a new challenge.

“I am very grateful,” he said. “I am very aware that a lot of people do not recover as well as I do, so I’m very happy about all the hard work I had to go through. It was really hard work, but it really made me a lot stronger.”

The Ruttles are owners of the Best in Class Education Center, located at 3875 Johns Creek Parkway, north of McGinnis Ferry Road. Ivey, who is a historian and worked in museums before his stroke, serves as the center’s manager. Molly, who is a former English teacher in the Johns Creek area, helps with curriculum, and Chris oversees the business end of the center, drawing from his background in business analysis.

The Johns Creek location will be the first Best in Class center in Georgia. The company is based in Seattle and has locations mainly along the West Coast, Texas and the Northeastern United States.

Ivey said he enjoyed working in museums where his primary task was managing collections. He applied his skills to both sides of the exhibits. “The thing with museums is that you have to do every job in the museum, so I got to do a lot of school groups and working in the education part and creating lesson plans.”

However, in December 2016, Ivey had a stroke that left him with an inability to speak and loss of function on the entire right side of his body. He survived, but his life was turned upside down as Ivey and his family faced a lengthy rehabilitation.

“I would say that I had dark days, and I had good days,” he said. “During the dark days, you need to work as hard as the good days to make sure you’re moving forward. I had to learn English from syllables and then words, and it took me three months to make my first full sentence. Each of those steps were incredibly grueling, so I can really impart with students the struggles of being able to learn, especially for people who are having trouble learning.”

Once their son recovered, the Ruttles found purpose in the tragedy and knew they wanted to provide a resource for children and families looking for an alternative in local education programs.

Chris Ruttle said the Best in Class appealed to them because of its mission. Best in Class offers flexible programs for one-on-one tutoring and enrichment, which is a group learning session for math and English. Enrichment starts as early as pre-K-aged children and goes through the sixth grade, with a focus on building academic skills and critical thinking.

The family represents three generations of teachers. Molly’s parents were educators, as were both Ivey and his sister. Chris said that having a family business where everyone is immersed in the educational field should be an advantage for them.

“One of the common themes was that this was good because the family has both experience and passion for education,” he said.

Ivey said he is looking to getting back to work and applying his skills to help others.

“Absolutely, and I’m really excited to be able to teach English specifically,” he said. “I have not only learned English once, but I learned it twice.”

By Jay Jones (

The Ruttle family